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Old 18-01-2015, 09:03   #1
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Crime in Bahamas and other Caribbean destinations

There are sites that claim the Bahamas are very unsafe. How much of this is xenophobic and how much fact? To what degree does it affect cruisers who visit?


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Old 18-01-2015, 09:21   #2
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Re: Crime in Bahamas and other Caribbean destinations

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There are sites that claim the Bahamas are very unsafe. How much of this is xenophobic and how much fact? To what degree does it affect cruisers who visit?
I've cruised throughout the Bahamas (except for Andros and Great Inagua). There is the urban crime you'd expect in the big population centers like Nassau and Freeport. But in the less populated areas the crime is almost non-existent, especially in the Out Islands. The Bahamians are extremely gentle and welcoming. The danger is that you might get hugged to death....

I've also cruised the entire E Caribbean chain from the Spanish Virgins to Grenada. The crime in the E Caribbean is greater, but varies some island to island. No worse than typical US cities - probably safer as there are very few guns.

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Old 18-01-2015, 09:26   #3
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Re: Crime in Bahamas and other Caribbean destinations

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Originally Posted by strangertides View Post
There are sites that claim the Bahamas are very unsafe. How much of this is xenophobic and how much fact? To what degree does it affect cruisers who visit?


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Take a look at www.noonsite.com for safety information on every island. My understanding is that the Bahamas have traditionally been extremely safe for boaters. There is often a difference between the crime rate inland between locals and the crime rate against tourists and boaters. For example, Mexico has been relatively unsafe in some areas but until recently some of the resort towns were very safe.



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Old 18-01-2015, 10:20   #4
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Re: Crime in Bahamas and other Caribbean destinations

You are probably safer in the Bahamas (excepting some parts of Nassau) than most places in the US.

Caribbean it varies from island to island. No way to make a blanket statement. Even in the higher crime islands you will see mostly theft but there are places that violence is a risk.

I second the recommendation to check individual islands on noonsite.com
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Old 18-01-2015, 10:42   #5
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Re: Crime in Bahamas and other Caribbean destinations

I echo what 2 Hulls mentioned. Crime in most countries is not uniform everywhere. in the Bahamas it's more common in Nassau and Freeport than on most out islands.

I've spent close to a year total cruising the bahamas and have never locked my dinghy (except in Nassau) , rarely locked my boat and have never had anything stolen, but I also minimized by time in Nassau and Freeport.

I certainly feel there is much less risk of criminal victimization while cruising the Bahamas than in Florida.
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Old 18-01-2015, 14:53   #6
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Re: Crime in Bahamas and other Caribbean destinations

As someone who lives in Chicago (which for many people is synonymous with crime), the only place anyone in my family has been held up at gunpoint was in Florida. Go figure.

Been to the Bahamas many times and the out islands are essentially crime free. Nassau has more typical city problems, but still, be smart and safe and you'll be fine. I have a tougher time reading drunk locals, never know what is really on their mind. But that's everywhere I guess.


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Old 18-01-2015, 15:35   #7
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Re: Crime in Bahamas and other Caribbean destinations

A quick google of murder rates per capita, because I'd rather have my stuff stolen then have someone murder my family or myself...Wikipedia lists out of 218 countries the USVIs as the 3rd worst with 52.6 murders per 100,000 population. Some samples here -

No. 7 Jamaica 39.3 murders per 100,000

No. 11 St. Kits and Nevis with 33.6 murders per 100,000

No. 13 Bahamas 29.8 murders per 100,000

No. 112 USA 4.7 murders per 100,000

List of countries by intentional homicide rate - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Clearly, statistics are statistics and the numbers aren't uniform geographically in the USA or where-ever.
For example one could argue that the murder rate for yachtsman instead of the general population would be more useful and I agree.

I think the data is instructive and perhaps contrary to opinions in this thread thus far as the Bahamas have the 13th highest murder rate on the planet.

Situational awareness is the best defense.
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Old 18-01-2015, 15:44   #8
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Re: Crime in Bahamas and other Caribbean destinations

I'll caveat this with the fact that we've only cruised the Abacos and only for a total of about 2 weeks.

That being said, we found most of the locals to be super friendly. If you're friendly and great them with a hardy good morning/afternoon/evening they seem to be pretty responsive. We never felt the least bit threatened or uncomfortable during our stay.

The only folks we even saw having a different experience where the stereotypical uptight American's (hey in many cases we earn it, it only take a few bad apples to perpetuate it). As long as you remember standards are very different than the US and don't make a huge deal if the service is slower than your local Applebees or Chili's, or if your beer isn't frosted with ice crystals when it's served to you, you'll be fine in the Bahamas from what I've seen. Even if you come off as a tool, I don't think you'll be in any danger of anything other than folks rolling their eyes at you and then ignoring you.

There are areas in the Caribbean where it's a bit more seedy, and as has been said many times above, it seems to be case by case on the islands. I'll say that we've traveled to a good many Caribbean Islands and for the most part if we're friendly and respectful, then so are the locals. Like anywhere else just pay attention to your surroundings and remember to relax and go with the flow...you'll be fine.

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Old 18-01-2015, 16:59   #9
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Re: Crime in Bahamas and other Caribbean destinations

More populated areas have more crime.

Those per capita murder stats are misleading. The out islands of the Bahamas are safe.
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Old 18-01-2015, 17:12   #10
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Re: Crime in Bahamas and other Caribbean destinations

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No. 13 Bahamas 29.8 murders per 100,000
And I expect all of them recently have been in Nassau and Freeport.

I have visited numerous Bahamian islands were I am pretty confident that no murders have ever taken place, at least not since the time of pirates and privateers - because nobody lives on them.

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Old 18-01-2015, 17:32   #11
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Re: Crime in Bahamas and other Caribbean destinations

Nassau I can speak to. There is quite a bit of petty theft. The murder rate is high. Primary reason for the high murder rate is competing criminal groups who murder rivals. Most of the murders are directed by the leaders of the criminal groups from their prison cells at Fox Hill. You could call it a porous facility. Very often crime witnesses are killed, so it is difficult to get people to testify.
It used to be a rule that accused murderers could not get bail. However, the courts have to consider bail if someone has been held for 5 years and there has not been a trial. The delays in the criminal justice system are astonishing.

In the region, the top murder locations per capita (2013) are
1. St. Kitts-45.5 per 100,000
2. Jamaica - 44.1 per 100,000
3. Bahamas- 35 per 100,000
4. USVI 32.9
5. Trinidad & Tobago
Then follows St Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Dominica.. the lowest crime rate was BVI.

As far as Bahamians being kind and gentle people, true, but only to a point. If you see two Bahamians (especially from Nassau) disagree on an issue, they can go at each other intensely and loudly, to the point that a person from the US or UK would think its time to call the police. And that is the men. The women are worse! But usually nothing escalates to a physical altercation. And everyone is on good terms afterwords, as if nothing happened.
There is a lot of violence in schools, too. I have seen 6 year old boys start hitting their female cohorts if their advances are ignored. Lower class parents view this as normal. Be very watchful of your children in The Bahamas.

In Abaco, which has the highest concentration of white Bahamians (so-called Conky Joes) steer clear of the lower economic strata in the 18 to 35 age group. They tend to have an attitude and can be belligerent.

Here is a message I got in March from the US embassy Nassau:
Security Message: Recent Armed Robberies in Popular Areas of Nassau
March 28, 2014
The U.S. Embassy in Nassau advises U.S. citizens residing in and traveling to The Bahamas to be aware of their surroundings and remain on heightened alert to avoid being a victim of crime.
The following incidents occurred during the past two weeks in Nassau:
• On March 16, 2014, at approximately 10:30 p.m., a man operating a motorcycle at Arawak Cay was approached by another man who demanded he get off the motorcycle. When the motorist resisted, the unknown individual shot him in the thigh then sped away on the stolen motorcycle.
• On March 17, 2014, at approximately 12:30 p.m. Royal Bahamas Police Force Officers noticed occupants of a vehicle near Marathon Mall acting suspiciously and approached their vehicle, pulled the occupants out and saw that two of three individuals had on electronic monitoring ankle bracelets. The police arrested all three individuals and later determined the two individuals who were wearing electronic monitoring devices were out on bail for previous armed robberies.
• On March 20, 2014, at approximately 2:00 p.m., a woman sitting in her vehicle in the parking lot of Caves Village Plaza was approached by three men in a car. One of the men exited the vehicle wielding a gun and demanded that the woman get out of her car. The attempted carjacking was thwarted when the woman’s screaming brought other passersby, who blocked the vehicle. The man got out of the vehicle and escaped with his companions in their own car.
• On March 21, 2014, at approximately 5:30 p.m., three armed assailants attempted to rob an armored truck which was parked in front of the popular Wendy’s restaurant at Cable Beach. As two security guards were transferring the cash to the truck, three armed assailants attempted to rob them. The guards ran back into the restaurant to elude the assailants. The assailants initially chased after the Guards, but fled the area when they heard sirens from Royal Bahamas Police Force cruisers responding to the incident.
• On March 22, 2014, at 2:00 a.m., three armed assailants opened fire outside the Waterloo nightclub in Nassau. Three Royal Bahamas Police Force Officers who were in the immediate vicinity of the event responded and neutralized the gunmen.
Armed robbery and violent crime remain major threats facing both U.S. citizens and residents of The Bahamas, including in areas frequented by tourists on New Providence and Grand Bahamas Islands. In the past year, a number of U.S. citizens have fallen victim to armed robbery. Crime statistics for specific islands, as well as all of The Bahamas, can be viewed on The Royal Bahamas Police Force website at: http://royalbahamaspolice.org/Statistics/.
The Bahamian Government has publicly stated its commitment to fighting crime and has increased anti-crime measures. Among the measures now being taken are increased police patrols and traffic stops. We remind U.S. citizens driving in The Bahamas to carry identification and their driver’s licenses and to cooperate with the police at traffic stops and identification checks.
In light of this situation, U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to The Bahamas should review their personal security plans. Remain aware of your surroundings, including local events; and monitor local news stations for updates. Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.
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Old 18-01-2015, 17:53   #12
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Re: Crime in Bahamas and other Caribbean destinations

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Originally Posted by 2Hulls View Post
I've cruised throughout the Bahamas (except for Andros and Great Inagua). There is the urban crime you'd expect in the big population centers like Nassau and Freeport. But in the less populated areas the crime is almost non-existent, especially in the Out Islands. The Bahamians are extremely gentle and welcoming. The danger is that you might get hugged to death....

I've also cruised the entire E Caribbean chain from the Spanish Virgins to Grenada. The crime in the E Caribbean is greater, but varies some island to island. No worse than typical US cities - probably safer as there are very few guns.

2 Hulls Dave
Yeah, I felt a lot safer there than much of the other islands further south...
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Old 18-01-2015, 18:01   #13
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Re: Crime in Bahamas and other Caribbean destinations

Duh, yea!! Don't go to Nassau. Who with half a brain can't figure that out? Why would any cruiser want to go there anyway? The good Bahamas are within sight....

USVI >> it's all in the bad parts of St. Thomas and St. Croix.

SVG >> Skip the main island. Every knowledgeable cruiser knows that. Be careful everywhere else.

St Lucia >> watch your wallet. I had a handheld VHF stolen off a charter boat in broad daylight (2003). We suspected the customs guy on the customs boat in the adjacent slip....

Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras >> a boom box was stolen out of the cockpit of my charter boat at anchor over night (1982). All the locals knew who did it, but we didn't get it back.

But I feel safer in the Bahamas and Carib than I do on the DC Metro....

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Old 18-01-2015, 18:08   #14
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Re: Crime in Bahamas and other Caribbean destinations

I've been going to the Bahamas for about 20 years. The most dangerous place I go during my trips is Miami.
Nassau has a lot of crime, but it's just like Miami. It's a big city, and you need to be aware of where not to go.
In Georgetown (Great Exuma) I've been aware of two missing dinghies during those years. I never knew what happened to one of them, but the other one was taken to his boat by a yachtie who had been overserved and thought it was his.
You can tell the newbies at the dinghy dock in Georgetown. They lock their dinghies until somebody tells them what a pain it is for others to work around it.
Unfortunately, there has been more crime on Great Exuma since a lot of outside labor was brought in to construct the resort complex at Emerald Bay or whatever it's called now. Hopefully that situation has improved.
Regardless, I don't worry much about crime in the Bahamas.
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Old 18-01-2015, 19:11   #15
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Re: Crime in Bahamas and other Caribbean destinations

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Duh, yea!! Don't go to Nassau. Who with half a brain can't figure that out? Why would any cruiser want to go there anyway?
Generally speaking, I would agree. We spent a couple of weeks there last year, entertaining our son and his girlfriend. This was our second time in Nassau, and did a bit of exploring this trip. It's not so bad. I did get ripped off by a marine store just up the road from Nassau Harbor Club Marina. Paid about $30.00 for an OEM filter for my Mercury outboard...

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